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Iraq Report: Attacks fail to materialize after soccer victory

The Iraqi soccer team gave the nation a reason to celebrate on Sunday with a victory over Saudi Arabia and the championship in the Asia Games. There were no major attacks reported during Sunday celebrations, and Iraqi security forces killed a suicide bomber and defused another car bomb in Baghdad. Last week's victory in the semifinals was followed by two brutal attacks by al Qaeda in Iraq against civilians celebrating in the streets; over fifty were killed and 130 wounded in twin suicide car bomb attacks. The Iraqi security forces in Baghdad learned the lessons from last week's attacks, and a traffic ban was instituted on Sunday prior to the completion of the soccer match.

As Operation Phantom Thunder and the Baghdad Security Plan progress in Baghdad and the Belts, some more anecdotal evidence is emerging that the surge is beginning to show real success in the security sphere. The civilian death rate has been reduced by 36 percent since May, and U.S. combat deaths have dropped to an eight month low. While U.S. combat casualties are not a good indicator of success, they are significant in this instance as there is more troop in Iraq than there have been for the past two years, and U.S. forces are now operating outside their bases and are conducting major combat operations in al Qaeda, Mahdi Army, and insurgent strongholds.

Over the past several days, Coalition and Iraqi forces have been active in the Baghdad Belt regions of Diyala, Anbar, and Babil provinces.

Anbar, Diyala, and Babil

While Multinational Forces West launched a major operation in the Thar Thar and Karma regions in eastern Anbar province, another major operation was launched in the far west. Operation Mawtini was launched on July 26 in the town of Kubaysah near Hit. U.S. and Iraqi forces bermed the city and are conducting clearing operations. To date, the operation has resulted in the capture of 124 suspected insurgents and the discovery of 38 weapons caches.

In the city of Husaybah in the Al Qaim region on the Syrian border, Iraqi police captured two al Qaeda operatives. One was a cell leader who "runs al Qaeda in Iraq activities in Husaybuh, is purportedly involved in the planning of future large scale attacks against Coalition Forces in the western Euphrates River valley." The other was a teacher who incited his students attack the Iraqi security forces. Further east in Habbaniyah, the Iraqi Army captured two insurgents behind a series of IED and small arms attacks, kidnappings, financing insurgent activities, and providing intelligence for insurgent activities.

In Diyala province, Coalition and Iraqi operations continue to expand outward from the provincial capital of Baqubah, which has been the main focus of Operation Arrowhead Ripper. A two day operation in Miqdadiyah on July 25 and 26 resulted in seven insurgents killed and one captured. Another operation on July 26 to secure the Turki village resulted in 11 insurgents killed and 13 more captured. Al Qaeda and Iraqi insurgents struck back in Baqubah, where car bombs killed three civilians and wounded 25 as they lined up to collect food rations. Insurgents also destroyed the tomb of the Prophet Daniel in the village of Wajihiya near Miqdadiyah.

In Northern Babil, the bulk of the recent operations have occurred in the Iskandariyah region under Operation Marne Avalanche. Since the operation began on July 16, seven insurgents have been killed and 60 captured, including six cell leaders.

Al Qaeda

The unrelenting daily raids against al Qaeda™s network continue. Iraqi security forces captured two members of an extra judicial and IED cell during a raid on the Jihad neighborhood in Baghdad on July 26. Sixteen al Qaeda suspects were captured during raids in Samarra and Tarmiyah on July 28. Coalition forces believe they captured an al Qaeda in Iraq sharia judge and his advisor during one of the Tarmiyah raids. Also on July 28, Iraqi security forces conducted a raid in Taji and captured two al Qaeda cell members responsible for attacks in Anbar province.

The July 29 and 30 operations against al Qaeda's command network in Anbar and Salahadin provinces resulted in eight al Qaeda operatives killed and 40 captured. Coalition forces struck in Tarmiyah, Karmah, Samarra and Baji during raids over the past two days. Additional raids on July 29 resulted in eight al Qaeda operatives killed and 22 captured during operations in Yusifiyah, Tikrit, Samarra, and south of Baghdad in northern Babil province.

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